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Phoenix Dance Theatre revive performance from 1983 to celebrate 35 years

Phoenix Dance Theatre is to stage a major revival of one of the company’s earliest works from 1983 as part of their 35 anniversary celebration Phoenix @ Home to be performed over three nights at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre this Autumn.

Choreographed by Edward Lynch, who also danced in the original production, Nightlife at the Flamingo premiered in Leeds in 1983, under the Company’s first Artistic Director David Hamilton.

Originally set in an American night club, the piece integrated popular culture and modern dance performed by five dancers with scenes depicting 1940s dance hall alongside typical 1980s club dance. Widely interpreted as a positive view of black masculinity, the piece took its inspiration from pioneering African American dance team the Nicholas Brothers as well as identifying with British jazz, soul and reggae cultures.

For this revived anniversary performance the piece will be updated by Edward Lynch himself, and will feature up to 35 dancers including current Phoenix Company Dancers, Apprentice Dancers, Phoenix Youth Academy members and former Phoenix Company Dancers.

Influenced by their dance teachers from school, notably the late Nadine Senior, the then called Phoenix Dance Company had a monumental impact on the national dance landscape. Formed in 1981 by three young men David Hamilton (Artistic Director), Donald Edwards and Vilmore James, Phoenix quickly built a following beyond its humble origins in the Harehills area of Leeds to achieve national acclaim and paved the way for the Company’s international status for quality, diversity and excellence which it continues to progress today.

Phoenix Dance Theatre is now the UK’s longest standing contemporary dance company outside London and recently launched its most ambitious ever fundraising campaign Give 35 for 35 Years to ensure the company’s longevity following a series of cuts to its core funding.

Artistic Director Sharon Watson said:

‘In 1989 I was one of the first female dancers to join the Company and it is a privilege to lead the Company in these challenging but artistically vibrant times. Recommissioning Nightlife at the Flamingo is a nod to the company spirit, and affirms the Company’s deserved place as prominent agents for change in the arts. It is right that we recognise just how revolutionary the Phoenix phenomenon is and the ground-breaking work the Company’s early members achieved.’

Choreographer Edward Lynch comments:

‘Nightlife at the Flamingo was inspired by the power of rhythm, style and physical expression - I can’t think of a more fitting piece of Company repertoire to celebrate 35 years of Phoenix. Phoenix has a long standing history in promoting the development of young Northern dancers, I’m excited to welcome the next generation of talent to perform alongside the professional company. It is important to recognise that in the 80s Phoenix Dance Company changed the cultural context of British dance and it’s an honour to be reviving this piece for the same transformative company 35 years on. May the Phoenix flame remain alight.‘

Nightlife at the Flamingo credit Terry Crabtree